'No deal' ends first day of mediation in PAL row

September 15, 2010 10:40 am 

MANILA, Sept. 14 – The first of the series of mediation hearings between the Philippine Airlines (PAL) management and its flights attendants union fails to achieve a deal as the former refuses to give in to the demands of the latter.

Andy Ortega, vice president of the Flight Attendants' and Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP), said the meeting which started at 9 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m., did not produce any concrete solutions to the dispute.

“PAL is standing by their earlier statements regarding our demands, he said, in a telephone interview, minutes after the start of the marathon hearings.

On the other hand, Ortega said they were still preparing to hold a strike by the end of October or early November.

Among the demands of the group include the financial and economic benefits, the retirement age of 60 for its flight crews, and the pregnancy clause, which they claimed a discriminatory.

The meeting was mediated by Dir. Reynaldo Ubaldo, executive director of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB). PAL president Jaime Bautista also attended the meeting while DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz was represented by Labor Attache Leopoldo de Jesus .

Ortega also said that the next meeting, which was scheduled on Friday, Sept. 17, will be crucial since it would prove or not the willingness of PAL to settle their differences.

The dispute is still in its cooling off period of 30 days, after the group filed the notice of strike before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last week.

The airline management, earlier said that the filing of the notice of strike was "ill-timed since it might scare away tourists and cause further damage to the flag carrier’s fragile finances."

But, PAL assured its passengers that its operations remained normal and all flights were operating as scheduled.

Previous talks between PAL and Fasap collapsed as the negotiations between the parties had dragged on since their last CBA expired in 2007.

The group is questioning the retirement age of all PAL ground employees, including PAL's management, which is 65 years old while male and female pilots retire at 60 years old.

"It is only the flight attendants who are being made to retire at an unreasonable age of 40 years old," the group said.

Likewise, they are against the policy on pregnant female flight attendants who are placed on leave without pay when they get pregnant and that the entire period is deducted from her years of service. (PNA) RMA/FGP/utb

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